Research / BFI Working PaperAug 23, 2022

Family Formation and Crime

Maxim N. Massenkoff, Evan K. Rose

We use administrative data from Washington State to perform a large-scale analysis of the impact of family formation on crime. Our estimates indicate that pregnancy triggers sharp declines in arrests rivaling any known intervention, supporting the view that childbirth is a “turning point” that reduces deviant behavior through social bonds. For mothers, criminal arrests drop precipitously in the first few months of pregnancy, stabilizing at half of pre-pregnancy levels three years after birth. Men show a sustained 20 percent decline in crime that begins at pregnancy, although arrests for domestic violence spike at birth. These effects are concentrated among first-time parents, suggesting that a permanent change in preferences—rather than transitory time and budget shocks—may be responsible. A separate design using parents of stillborn children to estimate counterfactual arrest rates reinforces the main findings. Marriage, in contrast, is not associated with any sudden changes and marks the completion of a gradual 50 percent decline in arrests for both men and women.

More Research From These Scholars

BFI Working Paper Mar 11, 2024

On Recoding Ordered Treatments as Binary Indicators

Evan K. Rose, Yotam Shem-Tov
Topics:  Uncategorized
BFI Working Paper Apr 8, 2024

A Discrimination Report Card

Patrick Kline, Evan K. Rose, Christopher R. Walters
Topics:  Employment & Wages, Economic Mobility & Poverty
BFI Working Paper Jul 26, 2022

The Effects of Teacher Quality on Adult Criminal Justice Contact

Evan K. Rose, Jonathan T. Schellenberg, Yotam Shem-Tov
Topics:  K-12 Education